\ ˈfes How to pronounce fess (audio) \
fessed; fessing; fesses

Definition of fess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to own up : confess usually used with up


\ ˈfes How to pronounce fess (audio) \
variants: or less commonly fesse

Definition of fess (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a broad horizontal bar across the middle of a heraldic field
2 : the center point of an armorial escutcheon

Examples of fess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Medved laughed, fessing up to a bit of hoops masochism. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "CSU Rams G Kris Martin warns Duke and Coach K: “We’re coming to win the game”," 6 Nov. 2019 But later in the episode, which was taped in March, Gina fessed up. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Gina Kirschenheiter Admits She Slept with Her Ex-Husband Months Before Domestic Violence Charges," 29 Oct. 2019 Despite intense interrogation, Aston won't fess up. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, "James Bond Gets a Stunt Double in No Time to Die—So Does Aston Martin's DB5," 20 Feb. 2020 If the price is outlandishly high, then the idea is never going to happen, supporters should fess up. Jennifer Rubin, The Denver Post, "Rubin: Harris’ health care retreat shows it never pays to follow the herd," 20 Aug. 2019 But sometimes the numbers just don’t add up, or fess up, and Game No. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, "They didn’t score any goals but Bruins’ fourth liners made their presence felt in victory," 10 Jan. 2020 Instead of fessing up, Keyser tried covering it up. oregonlive, "Meth, bar beefs, bikini coffee beatdowns: 12 weird and wild Oregon crime stories in 2019," 26 Dec. 2019 Everyone thinks politicians are two-faced, and two prominent Republicans have jokingly 'fessed up. Stephen Collinson And Caitlin Hu, CNN, "This is what strongman diplomacy looks like -- Meanwhile in America," 22 Oct. 2019 Chris Wetherell fessed up to the RT button on Twitter’s being perhaps a bad idea. Rose Eveleth, Wired, "The Architects of Our Digital Hellscape Are Very Sorry," 28 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Not until after the game -- LSU beat South Carolina 6-4 to stay alive in the SEC Tournament -- did Peterson fess up. Christopher Dabe, NOLA.com, "Todd Peterson's high school coach tells truth about LSU pitcher's hitting ability," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fess.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fess


1840, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fess


short for confess


Middle English fesse, from Anglo-French faisse band, from Latin fascia — more at fascia

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Time Traveler for fess

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The first known use of fess was in the 15th century

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Statistics for fess

Last Updated

30 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fess.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fess. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on fess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fess

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fess

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